Anorak News | Free speech: Southampton University’s racist anti-Israel debate must go ahead

Free speech: Southampton University’s racist anti-Israel debate must go ahead

by | 12th, March 2015

International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism


Southampton University’s debate on the State of Israel is called International Law and the State of Israel. The blurb runs:

This conference will be the first of its kind and constitutes a ground-breaking historical event on the road towards justice and enduring peace in historic Palestine. It is unique because it concerns the legitimacy in International Law of the Jewish state of Israel. Rather than focusing on Israeli actions in the 1967 Occupied Territories, the conference will focus on exploring themes of Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism; all of which are posed by Israel’s very nature.

And there you are. It is not about peace or the two-state solution. It’s is about a one-state solution which means making Israel an illegal country. It is a biased and bigotted conference more loaded than George Bush at a frat party. But it should go ahead.

You see, anyone can go and listen, even ‘illegal’ criminal Israelis who are being made stateless and having any claim to land backed by an ancient religious covenant with God, plus the fact of the disapora and all the centuries of pain that came with it outlawed by “leading thinkers”.

It’s all incredibly self-righteous and pompous at Southampton Uni’s anti-Israel get together. And it is not the least bit challenging. It’s a debate inside the safe zone.

Before we get to the content, we pick up on the “outrage“.

MP Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North, is quoted in the Express:

“While academic freedom is sacrosanct, it saddens me that Southampton University would potentially bring itself into disrepute by hosting such an apparently one-sided event.”

But that is what they do. Universities are all about hosting one-sided events, whether it’s talking on abortion, banning Blured Lines, T-shirts, The Sun newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, pole-dancing and the Nietzsche Society, or no-platforming speakers in a refusal to engage with diverse views and a multi-reasoning society.

Banning Zionists and Israel is just part of the trend. And no subject is more guaranteed to excite the censors than a debate on ways to deligitimise Israel. Monstering Israel is the default position for all sensitive student censors.

Cambridge Union Society has debated the motion “Israel is a rogue state” (followed by jazz and cocktails). That union has not held similar debates on Pakistan (founded in the same years as Israel) nor any other country shaped by the external forces, such as Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, the USA, Australia and so on. What is it about Israel specifically then makes it so worthy of attack? That question to the Jews.

These debates are simply chances to support the authodoxy and to show yourself to be a right-on part of the morally correct group think. A debate on Israel would be edgy if the free-thinking students were arguing against academic boycotts and a one-state solution of all the creeds. That would be saying the unsayable and challenging convention, however unpleasant it is. Debate should give you a chance to re-examine why you hold certain views, to challenge yourself and keep thinking alive and prevent one-view-fits-all dogma.

But, as we say, this three-day talking shop must go ahead. Banning it would be idiotic and censorious. Banning it puts you on the side of the berks who support a hate-fueled conference with a monocular agenda. 

On, a petition demands:

Cancel Your Upcoming Anti-Israel Conference.

To which any student worth their salt would anser ‘No’. Censorship sucks. Safe zones are for losers.

The demand goes on to say:

…This isn’t about academic freedom.

They should stop there. It is. It’s about free speech. It must not be banned. But on it goes:

We welcome genuine and open discussion about the issues surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But how can you discuss anything with people who don’t even recognise your right to have a voice?

But me no buts. You can engage. You can register for a ticket (it’s £30 for students; and £95 for non-students and anyone with no social life).

At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise throughout Europe, it is a disgrace that a respectable university would provide a platform to legitimise the idea that the Jewish homeland – of all the countries in the world – is somehow abnormal.

Israel is presumed guilty of the crime of existing, while no other state is being put on trial in this way.

Southampton University – this isn’t a conference.

It’s a kangaroo court.

Don’t let it go ahead.

It’s free speech, dummy. It’s the right to hear things you don’t want to hear. One signatory writes:

This is not about freedom of speech, it’s about stopping hate.

You don’t stop hate by banning it. You stop it by holding it up to examination, debate and ridicule. And to anyone intersted in exploring complex views and hearing different voices this debate at Southampton University is utterly laughable.


Posted: 12th, March 2015 | In: Key Posts, Reviews Comments (3) | TrackBack | Permalink